Stephen A. Smith Lacks Professionalism While Using ESPN Brand As A Weapon | Says Beef With Kyrie Also Involves NBA Star’s Father, And It’s ‘Personal’

The simmering beef between ESPN’s biggest talking head and the NBA’s most mercurial superstar is apparently personal.

Stephen A. Smith was a recent guest on “The Mike Missanelli Podcast,” where he revealed that he and Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving have differences on a personal level, ones that also involve Kyrie’s father, Drederick Irving.

“Now Kyrie and I have our differences on a personal level, which is none of anybody’s business and I’ll never tell why,” Smith said. “He knows why. And his daddy knows why.”

Is Stephen A. Smith Too Hard On Kyrie?

For the legions of Kyrie Irving fans out there, this admission by Smith is seen as some sort of vindication. They’ve long felt Smith went too hard at Irving over his variety of issues.

“They know how I feel about how they’ve acted towards me and they know how I feel about them and I know how they feel about me,” Smith continued. “But I can say that to anybody out there because I know that that does not interfere with my reporting on him and my perspective based off of the facts.”

Smith was discussing an episode of his show “First Take” from February where the conversation got heated between him and guest panelist Jay Williams.

Smith didn’t provide any further details or clarification beyond that in his appearance on “The Mike Missanelli Podcast.”

Do Personal Feelings Get In The Way Of Objectivity?

In the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire,” Nucky Thompson tells his adversary Gyp Rosetti, “I learned a long time ago, not to take things personally.” Rosetti replied, “Everyone’s a person, though, right? So how else could they take it?”

Smith’s assertion that how he feels about the Irvings and how they feel about him doesn’t interfere with his reporting and his perspective on the facts is laughable. Of course it does.

Any critique Smith makes of something Irving does is going to have emotional weight to it. It’s evident on the show.

But for fans of Kyrie, this doesn’t mean Smith is out to get him.

Kyrie Invites Criticism

When Kyrie is the topic in the “A” block on the debate shows, it’s not because of some hidden agenda. The All-Star guard often does something that causes the sports world to notice and discuss.

During the 2020-21 season as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie took an unexcused 10-day absence from the team. During that absence, he was seen at a birthday party violating the league’s COVID-19 safety guidelines and on a Zoom session for Tahanie Aboushi, a former Democratic candidate for Manhattan’s district attorney.

Last season he refused to comply with the New York City COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the only Nets player to do so, and was ineligible for home games. His refusal brought media and public backlash upon his organization and his limited availability negatively impacted team chemistry as he only played in 29 games. It led to James Harden demanding a trade and forcing his way to the Philadelphia 76ers.

This season, before he made a public trade demand, Kyrie was suspended for promoting an anti-Semitic video and refusing to apologize.

Those are all things Kyrie Irving did, nobody else. Those are facts.

Now, when discussing these facts did Smith’s personal issues with Irving impact his perspective? It’s hard to imagine they didn’t. But it’s safe to say Smith would’ve looked negatively upon all of these issues whether he and Kyrie were on good terms or not.

But this “beef” and back and forth drama is what drives sports media these days, sadly.

As long as viewers flock to watch “First Take” and shows of that ilk without demanding more substance, and as long as the video clips go viral this is what a lot of sports media will continue to look like.

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